Treatment Planning and Diagnosis
Your dentist relies on a variety of tools to diagnose decay, including x-rays, visual inspection, and cavity-detecting instruments.
Radiographs are a pivotal tool in diagnosing a cavity. On a x-ray, decay often appears as a dark spot causing a break between the different layers of a tooth. Moreover, decay has a particular pattern when spreading that is easily recognizable to a dentist.
Cavity-detecting instruments and visual inspection are also important adjuncts when diagnosing decay. Soft, sticky, and mushy tooth structure tends to be an alarming visual sign that decay is present. Ultimately, dentists can use these visual cues as well as the advanced tools on-hand to confirm a diagnosis.
Treatment planning in dentistry is generally separated into three phases: disease management, rehabilitation, and maintenance.
The first phase involves treating active disease, which can range from filling a small cavity to treating a dental abscess. When all areas of active disease have been managed, the dental team then focuses on phase two: rehabilitation.
Phase two involves restoring your smile, both functionally and aesthetically. Treatment here can be anything from a crown to a bridge, braces, or even dentures. It is important for both the dentist and patient that phase two occur after disease management, as it better safeguards these more complex and expensive restorations.
It is only after all rehabilitative concerns have been addressed to a state of health and satisfaction that the patient can enter stage three, maintenance. This stage involves the regular checkups and cleanings most are familiar with, and it serves to ensure you and your mouth remains happy and healthy!